The cinema: loved by Viennese
Film-making in Vienna has a long tradition, and thanks to critical praise and Oscar awards is currently earning new recognition. Largely unknown is the fact that a woman was largely responsible for the birth of the local film industry: Luise Kolm-Fleck. She began making films in 1908, and is considered the world’s second female director. In 1910, together with her husband, she launched the “Erste österreichische Kinofilms-Industrie” (“First Austrian Film Industry”), and we have this pioneer to thank for the fact that the final years of the Danube monarchy are documented on film.
“Get out, or I’ll forget my Viennese charm!” The threat of a nervous hotel doorman in “The Third Man” directed at an annoying enquirer.
The city of Vienna…
with its imperial splendour and its atmosphere swaying to and fro between waltz and wine – served as a willing backdrop for filmmakers from all over the world. In Carol Reed’s “The Third Man” the post-war city (and its sewers in particular) is the setting for thrilling chases, while the romantic “Sissi” films with Romy Schneider bring Empress Elisabeth and the golden imperial era back to life. In “The Living Daylights” James Bond becomes a tourist in Vienna – complete with Fiakerfahrt (horse and carriage ride) and Schönbrunn palace. But 007 isn’t the only one to exchange kisses on the Riesenrad (giant ferris wheel): the prize for the most romantic kiss on this location goes to Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in “Before Sunrise”, a cinematic declaration of love to the Danube metropolis and to life.
The Viennese love the cinema, even when their city isn’t playing the starring role. The annual VIENNALE film festival presents new films, the Filmmuseum (Film museum) delights cineastes with classics, and as well as the big multiplexes there are fine art-house cinemas which are worth a visit not just for their well-chosen films: you’ll find red plush seats whose best days are long gone, wooden chairs, and an authentic ‘sixties ambience. And sometimes there’ll be more people sitting in the cinema’s bar than in front of the screen. Whether it’s a movie brunch, an open-air cinema, a 3D blockbuster or a midnight showing – the fascination for cinematic spectacle is alive and well.
Text: Nina Lucia Groß, Fotos: Christine Wurnig, Bild Kinosaal: Gartenbaukino/Astrid Johanna Ofner